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The End of the Cold War: Can American Constitutionalism Survive Victory?
Ohio Northern University Law Review (2015)
  • Stephen M. Feldman, University of Wyoming
The nation's Cold War battle against the Soviet Union pervasively influenced American law and society, as numerous scholars have observed. The Cold War, for instance, spurred the strengthening of civil rights and the capitalist economy. The federal government needed to protect civil rights, at least symbolically, to deflect Soviet denunciations of democracy. Meanwhile, the ostentatious exhibition and use of American consumer products contrasted American economic prosperity with Soviet struggles. Thus, during the Cold War, the government and the capitalist leaders were bonded together in a struggle against the communist enemy. The overriding desire for Cold War victory tempered potential political demands for laissez-faire governance. This article considers the effects of the end of the Cold War on American law and society. The nation's Cold War victory generated unanticipated and perverse changes in American democracy. The government and capitalists were no longer fighting together against a common foe. To the contrary, capitalists now seemed to view government as its enemy. Demands for laissez-faire policies became common and overt, as did denigration of democratic government. As a result, American democracy transformed into a government system dominated by wealthy individuals and corporations. The conservative justices on the Supreme Court--John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Anthony Kennedy--have promoted business, especially corporate business, and protected the economic marketplace from government regulation. If this trend continues unchecked, it will threaten the constitutional system, including both American democracy and American capitalism.
  • Constitutionalism,
  • democracy,
  • capitalism,
  • Cold War,
  • American law
Publication Date
Spring June 1, 2015
Citation Information
Stephen M. Feldman. "The End of the Cold War: Can American Constitutionalism Survive Victory?" Ohio Northern University Law Review Vol. 41 (2015)
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